(i have the technical jargon down pat now don't i?)
I agreed for three reasons -
one i think Karen is awesome - she is an openhearted thinker with a way of noticing and commenting on the world which is kind, funny and insightful
two - she is a fellow Louise
three - the holidays are hard
so here goes
holidays are hard from my perspective because they are piled high with shoulds
and when i looked in my personal luggage (not matching but immense) around the holidays, i found the following...we should be happy, we should have lots of family, the family should get along, there should be rosy faces around the table looking lovingly at each other, i should buy the perfect presents, cook the perfect meal (which is tastier and better than everyone elses), wear the perfect outfit, have the perfect weather...
you get the picture...
turns out, that instead of a time of celebration and joy my actual perspective of the holidays is more perfect and more shoulds than any other time of the year...
and who pushes my buttons and triggers my tender parts??? ... that's right, the delicious combination of my family of origin and my husband's family of origin... just who i get to spend time with then!
in fact as i write this i can feel that tightness rise in my stomach and my mouth and nether regions (by which i mean my bum hole) clench
but when i breathe a little and look inside myself with that magical headlamp of stillness
i see little me
that little Jane who really wants to be a good girl, which means, of course not being the best Jane she can be but pleasing everyone else...
it is little Jane who wants the validation from everyone else, that what she does is perfect, so that she can be content that she is on the right track, that she is worth something...
and so knowing that, instead of more presents and more salads and more happy
this holidays i will be listening to my clenchings (just be grateful i didn't call this post listening to my bumhole- i am sorely tempted)
and when i feel the tightenings i will take a breath and say (sometimes it needs to be out loud but i suggest going to the toilet to do this - there are mental health professionals in my family that might see the need to act....)
"Honey, it's ok. You are doing fine. We are going to look after each other ok? You are safe with me. You are doing great today. You are perfect just as you are honey. What are you grateful for right now?" (and i will probably be smart enough to say having some time out from that lot, but still)
I will be realigning with myself, with that scared little girl who lives inside my tender heart, who just wants to make everything alright (to a bunch of people that crone me knows are unpleasable)
I will be showing her the deepest kindness and reassurance, acknowledging her existence and welcoming her into my arms for a reassuring hug for a moment or two when she is scared and feeling under attack...
that is what self care looks like to me...
and i hope you make the gift to yourself this holidays of practising, as my dear mollie would say "Extreme Self Care".
Elizabeth, whom I refer to as LL LFC (long lost long found cousin) is resident at High Valley Farm in New York State. She is a writer, a poet, a counsellor and a singer. She is also a most gracious stalkee!
I happened on Elizabeth in a moment of vanity. “Oh an author named Cunningham? She is bound to be good”. That moment changed my life. The Maeve Chronicles are the only books which I have read more than twice (4th time and counting). I have become close to evangelical about recommending these books everywhere I go!
The books chronicle the life of the glorious Maeve, a feisty redhead Celt who is the Magdalen and twin soul to Jesus. In allowing Maeve a voice in these four books, Elizabeth has bought to life and archetype of he wild feminine so sorely missing in our 21st century world.
Maeve is feisty, sexy, irreverent, powerful and flawed. And for those of us hungry for another dimension to what it is to be woman, Maeve is deep nourishment for the soul.
As part of the celebration of the release of the Red Robed Priestess, the last book in the Maeve Chronicles, Elizabeth kindly offered me the chance to read and review it here.
In the Red Robed Priestess, Elizabeth brings Maeve back to Pretannia. Back to meet her long lost child. Back to face those who punished her. Back to her home.
Of course I leapt on the chance Elizabeth offered. But when this beautiful book arrived, I felt trepidation. Knowing this was the last book with Maeve meant saying goodbye and that was difficult to do.
To quote the Red Robed Priestess;
“It is strange to know when a goodbye is final. It is a gift.”
Here is my interview with Elizabeth
Thank you Elizabeth for offering me this chance – to read the Red Robed Priestess and review it here.
What is your favourite part of the book?
First, thank you dear LL LF cousin for embracing that moment of entirely sensible vanity and for being the sweetest, most supportive stalker an author could have. Every writer should be so lucky! And as I am sure everyone here knows, Jane is a brilliant artist, writer, and human being. So do stalk her!
Oddly enough I think one of my favourite parts in the final battle scene, which I so dreaded writing. I like it not because of the blood and guts but because of the between-the-worlds way Maeve experiences the battle, how she sees and feels it from every point of view.
I also enjoyed her time on Mona (Anglesey) the Druid Isle with friends she has not seen since they were teenagers. Those friends, once first formers, are now venerable druids, and yet still the same people. That is one of the gifts of writing from the perspective of someone older.
This might be a good place to say that though I wrote Maeve’s story chronologically, the novels can be read in any order. I worked hard to make sure that each novel can stand alone. The last can be first and the first last!
Maeve has taken part of my heart. In the Red Robed Priestess, as in all of the Maeve Chronicles, Maeve is a flawed but honest heroine. What do you think it is about Maeve that means people connect with her so deeply?
First, I have to tell you (with a smile) that when people refer to Maeve as a flawed heroine, as more than one person has, she says, “Flaws? What flaws!” Which may, in fact, be one of her flaws. She is self-confident to a fault. I suspect people connect with her because Maeve is not seeking perfection or enlightenment or some pure spiritual state. She is real; she is passionate. She loves hard and forgives easily. She does not expect perfection from others, either—which is why she can love someone like Paulina, the spoiled woman who enslaves her in The Passion of Mary Magdalen. She can also fight with people she adores, as she does with Jesus, and insist on the same emotional honesty she offers. For someone like me, who from childhood understood God to be demanding impossible moral perfection, Maeve is a breath of fresh air, a bracing, down-to-earth, liberating friend.
In this book Maeve returns to her home in Britain. You write as though the mountains of England are made of your bones. Was there a sense of home coming when you travelled there to research the book?
The British Isles have always seemed familiar and home-like to me. Most of my ancestors came from there, and the clergy line not so long ago. Also I was an English major and was raised on children’s stories by authors like the Anglo-Irish CS Lewis and English E Nesbit. Of course at one time I read all of Agatha Christie’s and Dorothy Sayer’s mystery novels. Onsite research has been important for all the novels. How else would I have known that there is mica in the rocks and soil surrounding the Virgin Mary’s house in Ephesus? For Magdalen Rising and Red-Robed Priestess, Dwynwyn’s Isle, a real place, was something I only could have discovered on foot.
In the preface you say “There were times when I sorely wished I had not entwined Maeve’s life with Boudica’s, for this story has demanded that I stretch my imagination and heart beyond where I thought I could” What were the challenges of writing about an historical figure like Boudica.
It was challenging to write about Boudica not because she is a historical figure but because her story is so tragic. It involves war and atrocity—atrocities committed not only by the Romans but by Boudica herself. More than Maeve, Boudica is a flawed and tragic heroine. I had to depict her courage and charisma as well as the unhealed wounds that drove her sometimes to near madness.
In the Red Robed Priestess, Maeve talks about the compression of time being dizzying. Maeve’s life is set in the time of Christ and this book is set in Roman Britain, can you talk about how you manage to take us there so convincingly?
Maeve speaks both from her own time and beyond time. We, her twenty-first century readers, are her long-awaited audience. She knows what would be familiar and what would be strange to us, when to explain something and when to evoke memories that live in our cells.
The above makes it sound as though the book is channelled, and it is not. My relationship with Maeve is a partnership, and I work hard at my craft. Throughout the writing, I was daunted by the idea of depicting the first century, including all sorts of things I have never experienced firsthand—like battle! I did a lot of research, scholarly and onsite. In the end, it is the power of the imagination that amazes me, that is a mystery. Because I am human and Maeve is human, I can enter into her perspective. What I don’t know she can tell me, my imagination can tell me. We all know more and less than we think we do.
Maeve is challenged, in the Red Robed Priestess, by the “truth”, a story being true if it is well told and the truth setting us free. What did these books teach you about the truth?
Questions about the nature of truth run through all The Maeve Chronicles. In Magdalen Rising, Maeve’s eight mothers, who originate the saying “a story is true if it’s well told,” spin wonderful tales about Maeve’s mythic paternity. It does not trouble them or Maeve that there is no one literal version. She has an innate grasp of poetic truth. As it turns out, Maeve’s mothers are also spin masters. There is a not-so-pretty truth about her father that they obscure. Later Maeve stumbles upon that truth, and it nearly destroys her and indeed sets in motion a chain of events that culminates in Red-Robed Priestess.
Of course Maeve falls in love with someone who mystifies her with his belief in one God, one Story, one Truth. Just before his death, Jesus proclaims: “I came into the world to bear witness to the truth, and all who are on the side of truth heed my voice.”
In Bright Dark Madonna, Maeve makes a deal with Peter, accepting that her own truth will be edited from Jesus’s story in exchange for keeping her child (whom the apostles are determined to take/save from her). When she later tells Jesus’s story and her own story to their daughter she edits out some of the harsher aspects, and later comes to grief for these omissions.
In Red-Robed Priestess, the now adult daughter of Maeve and Jesus challenges her mother just before her reunion with Boudica, “Are you going to tell her the truth or one of your stories?”
In terms of what I learned in the writing, I would have to say, I am on the side of truthfulness and equally on the side of truth expressed through story. Some fundamentalists once asked me if I felt guilty for writing fiction about what they considered to be Biblical truth. I answered, “There are four Gospels, each different from the others, one dramatically so, written with different intent to reach different communities. They are more like novels and histories.” Needless to say, that answer did not go over well, but I stand by it. Even when we are not writing fiction, when we are conveying what we consider to be fact, we are ordering those facts, shaping a narrative. It is inevitable. It is human. To be truthful, we need to be humble, to admit that we don’t know the truth is some abstract or absolute way. Our best check and balance is rigorous truthfulness with ourselves.
In the Red Robed Priestess, Maeve and her two daughters are explored as strong multilayered women. Do you feel their appearance in your imagination, and then into the book is linked the rise of feminine wisdom in the western world?
There have always been strong, complex female figures in literature as there have always been strong, multi-layered women. But only comparatively recently (in western literature) have women had the means to create and define those characters themselves, to write the story in their voice, from their point of view. In spite of the success of Jane Austen a generation or so earlier, the Bronte sisters published under male pseudonyms. That’s less than two hundred ago!
In our lifetime, we have witnessed the reawakening of longing for and celebration of the divine feminine. That longing woke in me before I knew there was any sort of a movement. I wrote about the spontaneous re-emergence of the goddess in my novel Return of the Goddess, a Divine Comedy. Writing that novel connected me with others on the same path. After a few years of exploration, I found I was missing an incarnate human goddess. I did not see why Jesus should be the only deity with beautiful bare (and sometimes quite dusty) feet. So Maeve came into my life, fleshy, sexy, multi-layered flawed heroine that she is. I believe we are all mediators of the divine and human, and so Maeve’s daughters and the other characters in the book are also complex and nuanced.
The Red Robed Priestess talks about completion of circles and the falling away of the old ways. Do you see that pattern being played out in our world today?
The Celts of Maeve’s time were gifted poets, artists, and warriors. They also participated in a trade system—though Roman writers of the time liked to depict them as noble (or bloodthirsty, depending) savages. Sound familiar? They had a tribal, de-centralized system, and a sophisticated legal system, but it was all in the oral tradition. Druids were the keepers of the culture, holding libraries of law, genealogy, history, and literature in their heads—as do people in some cultures today. But the Romans, whose system of law and whose penchant for empire is much more like the western powers of our time, indeed is one of the models for empire, saw the Celts and other tribal peoples as primitive. They wanted to access to the resources of the Celtic, Germanic and other tribal peoples and saw themselves as bestowing the benefits of Roman rule and civilization (plumbing and central government). They called it the Pax Romana. Today the United States prides itself on bringing democracy to countries we essentially occupy and whose cultures we undermine. It is essentially the same story. Before the United States became a “super power” it was the British and other European countries going around destroying native cultures, establishing colonies, controlling natural resources.
The poem you wrote in the back of the Red Robed Priestess speaks about Maeve not forsaking you. Your words struck a deep chord with me. I had to ready myself to read this book knowing I was going to have to say farewell Maeve. Do you have any advice for other readers in this boat.
I know it will be wrenching to come to the end of Maeve’s story. Have tissue ready. That said, Maeve will always be with you. (I know she gets irritated when Jesus says that to her, but it is true.) Not only can you re-read her stories as often as you like, but you can talk to her. People do. She talks back. Her voice is so distinctive, you will recognize it, and she has a refreshing way of cutting through platitudes and piety to get to the real, raw heart of the matter. She is your friend.
You have a unique relationship with Maeve – she inhabits your life as more than a fictional character. Can you talk a little about how she connects to you day to day?
Maeve is still there for me in just the way I describe above. I can and do talk to her, especially when I am wakeful in the middle of the night. I hear more than see her and sometimes she holds my hand or holds me.
What I miss terribly is the daily, yearly, decades long writing of the story. For more than a third of my life, whenever I’d be taking a shower or a walk or lying in bed before getting up, I would be thinking of the next scene, working out plot problems. Some solutions came to me in dreams. I lived inside the story, I had a complete other life, and I miss that life and partnership more than I can say. I am just beginning to emerge from a long time grieving, just beginning to lift up my head, look around and wonder what might be the next adventure. Whatever it is, I am so grateful for the adventure of writing Maeve’s story. And it means the world to me that she has become real to other people.
Thank you again to Jane for being such a good friend to Maeve and to me.
I am deeply honoured to bring you this interview and urge you to beg, borrow but preferably not steal, (Elizabeth deserves all the royalties she gets!) Maeve into your life. You will not regret it!
Please visit Elizabeth at http://passionofmarymagdalen.com/ and find out more about her, the Maeve Chronicles, her other work here or High Valley http://www.highvalley.org/ or the blog she and Maeve write http://elizabethandmaeve.blogspot.com/ or follow her on twitter @EliznMaeve. Elizabeth has an FB fan page created by her sister Ruth Cunningham (another cousin) http://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeth-Cunningham/137518912968862 And Maeve now has her own page as well http://www.facebook.com/people/Maeve-Rhuad/100002343434468 (I am a very thorough stalker as you can see).
(see - even this mangroves next to a stream is beautiful - i can see the sky and the sea and land and living all in one tiny glimpse of a dirty creek...)
Hi lovely one,
sorry i have been away so long - it seems i am incubating and i am unable to leave the nest for long....
i wanted to write about the gift of the ordinary, because as i spend more and more time at home i realise how friggin amazing ordinary is
For most of my 46 years i have craved to be noticed, be extraordinary, be seen as special
i wanted to travel to exotic and interesting places, achieve amazing and extraordinary things...
i bought lock stock and two smoking barrels into that "dream big be more don't settle" that we are all exhorted with.
i could not be worth anything unless i achieved remarkable things
and as i hit midlife i felt ashamed of the fact that at that mid point of this life i had two children and an ordinary marriage and ordinary struggles and ordinary occupations
i was frumpy
i felt like i was missing this huge extraordinary life that i had imagined
i was resentful as all hell
i was unhappy
somehow i felt like i had let the world, the Universe, God and all the saints down...
Nothing to tell St Peter
nothing to eulogise
i felt bereft
and i wallowed there for some time...
then ploddingly i began to do the things that called me
then as the girls got older and my life became less of a round of cleaning and feeding i did more
i started to record gratitude (and some days my lists were as mingey as being able to breathe and having spectacles so i could see, and the car starting)
but it helped me notice that actually these things were gifts
spectacular gifts - i didn't have to compare myself to an Ethopian orphan (because God knows when i go down that path i just end up with more self loathing i mean here i am in a clean house with a family and cupboards full of food...)
i have worked with some people with disabilities in situations that make the Ethopian orphans look fortunate... one man, Henry, was his happiest when we was outside, he was deaf and had no commmunication but when you took him outside and he turned his face gently this way and that, recieving the gentle touch of the wind on his skin with such grace, well it just made my heart explode...
but that i could see was a bloody gift, that i had a car and that meant i could go to the big trees and just sit for a while that was a bloody gift
and soon i began to see that the washing basket and the way it is woven is an amazing art work,
the way she slips her hand into mine as we walk to the supermarket is a benediction
the way the kitten calls to me with her chirrup to find where i am is grace...
Brene Brown spoke about research that asked bereved people what they most missed - it wasn't graduation day pride, or marriage ceremony elation - it was the kid fighting with his brother in the next room, or the towels left on the floor...
oh make no mistake - i still hate cleaning the fridge or the floor or....
but i don't feel like my life is wasted because i allow the green out my window and the fact i can poo everyday and the food in my cupboard and that i can touch my toes count for something...
i think it makes me count the moments i am living rather than regret the ideas i once had of bbeing the only worth ones...
the most remarkable people i have known are those who are kind and loving and generous - not the captains of industry or the heroic adventurers but the other ones... ordinary ones who were ALIVE ......
i am joining in the blog-o-sphere's campaign to raise awareness about the girl effect
if girls are supported to make a difference in their world they can change the world
Girls like Sunchita can help their families. This means a change in a girl's life helps a boy, like Sunchita is helping her brother. It helps her parents, they don't have to commit to such labour intensive work in their aging years.
Girls like Sunchita lift their communities out of poverty and the break the cycle of disadvantage.
Girls like Sunchita could be the ones to shift paradigms, to provoke change, to allieviate suffering.
If Girls like Sunchita go on to have families they will empower their children to live under different thought patterns, they will change the world their children grow up in. They will change the world.
Our family sponsor a girl, Lipi,who like Sunchita, lives in Bangladesh.
We chose her as a child to sponsor because she was the same age as our eldest child, Eila. Eila is now in year 6, her final year at primary school and will be going to Intermediate next year. She is acheiving in all areas of her schooling above her age group. She is a strong healthy girl.
Lipi on the other hand is in year 3 at her school... She has to collect water and help with the stock and this gets in the way of her schooling. She is small and thin.
As Eila is advantaged by growing up where she has the priviledges she does, Lipi is disadvantaged purely by where she was born
Interestingly after i had written the bulk of this blog post i recieved a progress letter from Lipi. She is connected by World Vision to us... but she is connected by being a young woman, growing into a world of uncertainty and change, just as my girls are. But with the gift of knowledge and mastery of the written word and mathematics Eila's possibilities are so much wider.
Is this fair?
Is this right?
Is this appropriate?
But it is what it is..
If Sunchita can be a role model, girls like Lipi may see another way and be able to reach for that path.
It combines art, faery tale and story. 3 of my great loves...
I have created this website where all who are tired of the story they tell themselves can come.
The way it works is we make contact, you tell me the story you want to change and depending on the option you choose...
i will make up a new story for you and produce an artwork on the theme of your new story ...
SO TO CELEBRATE PLEASE GO TO THE GIVEAWAYS AND OTHER MAGIC part of the website (It is under more... but please have a look around - it is a faerietale inspired playground !!!!) , tell me why you would like to reframe your story and leave a contact email and i will choose a winner on the 25th of October -
please tell your friends and increase your good karma!
and thank you for supporting me to be brave enough to do this....
having you come here and see me through has made a huge difference!
that when i am surrendered i have space to notice rather than fight
when i stop struggling against the shoulds and the outtas and the wounds
i can see what makes them
i can see the cause
i can see whether i am wounding myself using the ropes tied by others...
and this morning i realised that often i am...
i was at drop off at school struggling against a percieved slight when i remembered surrender
and in my mind i just stepped off the mouse wheel
and my footsteps slowed
and my body softened
and i realised i had no idea what was going on for that other person
and how i appear to them is none of my business
do i approve of myself?
(a whispered yes)
am i acting from a good place?
am i worthy of kindness
a stronger yes (the fact that this is my current affirmation may help)
and i felt that tension and harshness leave my body
and i felt love pour in
and it really is as simple as that
so here is my checklist
1. be aware
4. check in with yourself
5. let the love come in
it really feels as easy as that... and i think the reason is that the secret nature of the Universe is love. God/Goddess/All that Is is truely Love broader and deeper and stronger than anything we can imagine and so when we soften and we truely allow that to come in we see that is all there really is... Love
Sometimes it is damaged and has prickly edges. Sometimes we don't open to it enough.
surrendering the need to be right
surrendering the need to examine all wounds and slights and injuries
surrendering the need to be good
surrendering the need to be more
surrendering the need to be wanting
surrendering the need to be needful
surrendering the need to compete
surrendering the need to conform
surrendering the need to be liked
surrendering to the will of God/Goddess/All that Is and just floating on this river which knows where it is going...
trusting that the eddies will be there when i need to rest
and the rapids will bounce me out on the other side
and the sun will shine on me and the stars will guide me
which i have no excuse for really apart from the fact that the things i usually write about here seem blindingly important and i rush to come here...
but i am going to try to explain this wonderful awful woman who arrived
there is a back story
i am (as you may know if you have read here before) and inveterate people pleaser
i try to be a nice girl. i try to be polite. i try to be thoughtful. i try to be good.
But the secret is i have a tail that as Clarissa Pincola Estes so rightly points out, often twitches below the hem of my skirt. Of course this makes me ashamed. It fits none of the categories above.
i have a nose that smells danger but no training as to what to do with the knowledge. To run from danger might be considered rude.
I have eyes that see in the darkest of places but because they often see what no one else sees i stitch my lips together in a sweet smile so that the ugly things i see don't spill out and aren't offensive to others...
These things have made me feel other all my life
i have limped around the world looking for the place i knew i belonged - somewhere surely, there were others who smelled like me, howled like me, saw like me...
I found my family once or twice - my beloved Daryl who gave me the gift of Clarissa Pincola Estes and women who run with the wolves... but i felt so bouyed up by this connection, this homecoming that i thought i was strong enough to go back to the world of the others without protection
it almost sunk me
and so it was by sheer fate that i happened on the SARK forum, kindreds, kindness and clarity all in one pick and mix bag.... seeing other women struggle and follow their hearts was so enriching, so enlivening that i began to do the same
from there i found online art courses...especially the ones with Connie Hozvicka i began to invest in my dreams
i found, by the blessings of all that is holy and the faeries who live in the Whangarei Library shelves Elizabeth Cunningham and Maeve, they are my heart's friends and i live daily heart filling contact with them..
i have done a course with Pixie Campbell on the medicine of plants and stone people and travelling around the points, teaching me to trust my intuition, my deepest knowings....
and i found my way back to Clarissa and that old yellowed underlined book
and the wild woman howled at me from the pages... a howl of welcome and feirceness and blood
and so i took to my canvas with the gesso for texture and orange red and vermillion because i knew that she was calling herself out...
calling out the wild woman
calling out the parts of me that hear to much see too much feel too much are too much for all the buttoned down goodwoman bullshit i have been expecting myself to be constrained by for all these long lonely years
and out she came, in scratches with brushes and leaves and nails, with swoopy strokes of thick globbed paints and tiny dabs of gentle colour
here she comes
she scares me and challenges me and dares me and taunts me
and really she is me
and as Elizabeth Cunningham says "It's not all pretty pretty pretty, beauty never is"
I have been struggling for balance for the last few months....... withdrawing from the world as i know it...... the PTA, the committees, the responsibilities, the doings, the appointments, the cramming in of MORE and MORE AND MORE...... I have moved away from a warm friendship because the need for busy-ness in my friend's life made me feel too close to the maelstrom and too battered just going around for a cup of tea left me picking bits of debris out of my hair for hours afterwards.......
Yesterday on Inner breath, yet another course with Connie we were discu
ssing the need to slow down in painting - the possibility of painting as meditative practise and how many of us on the course are feeling pushed away from the busy.... how difficult we find this in a world of goal-driven-achievement-focused-doing-stuff-freneticness ......
It has been bought home to me hugely by the wonderful workshop i am doing with Pixie Campbell .... we are working with the medicine of the North at the moment... the place of the elder... the place of sitting with our own wisdom..... and even typing those words evokes a stillness i can't describe (i have been in the midst of a raging virus too - my body REALLY wanted me to sit still this week!) .... In the discussion thread the beautiful and ever wise Lis said
all the striving and pushing is about that - about wanting to make myself more lovable, more acceptable ... when the truth is, as we are we are enough, we are deserving of all the love of the universe and we just need to accept it rather than grab at it.
so we can be co-sponsors for each other in Over-strivers Anonymous! And being still is hard because then we are left to face what we are moving through - the feelings, the fears, the shame or sadness - what i am learning through this challenge with my mother is that by bowing down to all that arises, acknowledging its presence, somehow space opens up for me to hold more ... and often that something more is gratitude, joy, magic, beauty, ...
isn't that profound?......All that striving, all that filling every stinking second with sound and movement and ever more dizzying circles of stuff, the bleeps and the rings that constantly call us away from any prolonged concentration, the tiredness that we wear like a badge of honour and courage... ALL OF IT IS THERE TO STOP US FEELING AND SEEING OUR DEEPEST WOUNDS AND TO STUFF ANOTHER SOCK IN THE MOUTH OF OUR PAIN.....
i also had the thought on Inner breath yesterday that we are drawn to the stillness, to the stopping when we are more and more open to the divine.... to the ancient, timeless, stillness of the Divine.... the more the Divine lives in and is expressed in us the more we slow.... the more we feel the rhythm of the breath of life in us.... in.... and out..... the more our hearts are at ease where they lie rather than being distracted from their business of beating out the sound of the magic of life every second we are alive.... HERE IS TO SLOW. HERE IS TO STILL. HERE IS TO SITTING WITH THE REAL STUFF OF LIFE, THE HOLDING OUR CHILDREN, THE FOCUS ON THE BREATH, THE REALLY SEEING THE GREEN IN THE GRASS AND THE BLUE IN THE SKY AND BEING PRESENT TO THE MIRACLE OF THAT AND OF OUR HEARTS BEATING AND OUR BLOOD FLOWING
Eila in The Hat Helen made - she loves it but she can only use it sometimes! it is so beautiful i could pop. i had a discussion with my friend Helen yesterday which has been circulating around my heart ... we are both stepping up and making something happen with our dreams.... we are both making a visible and measurable thing to show the world our dream.... we are both scared shitless about that.... and i said to her yesterday that i felt like it was easier to hold on to the potential and not actually step into the dream because it was easier and safer to have the cache of potential and talent and not having to be measured about the actual doing of it.... how that fear of being measured as not reaching our potential (on the very first try) was enough to put me off doing something that my soul was calling me to do was sobering.... how could i be so scared of being measured that i risked not living even a part of the life of my dreams.... that i could let fear take that away from me and call it being safe seems so ludicrous i can barely credit how many years i have spent telling myself that my potential was enough... so today i posted the culmination of the work that has gone into my creative dream to get it to a working reveal to the world stage... and when i hear back from Helen (who graciously agreed to be my guinea pig) i will come here and tell you about my creative dream and give fear the cold shoulder as i turn to grab, with both greedy hands, the life of my dreams
i think the small comforts are the ones that lift my undercarriage off the ground
i think the littlest things make being a human being worthwhile i think that things like these can save lives...
the smile of a stranger
the true warmth in a hello
the sun warming your back
my pounamu soft-curved and warming in my hand
the kind word from a friend who knows
the comfort of a good bed the edges of a book's cut pages
the trust of an animal that has learnt you are worthy
sand under your feet
the tickle of earrings on your neck
the way colours mix to make new colours
i am so grateful to be finding a habit of noticing these small, exquisite things and being sustained by them...
This morning i was setting up the washing machine.
Should i wash it on a long cycle?
that much detergent or less?
Spin at 600 or 800?
and then i got to thinking about how every day we make a mind numbing number of decisions... some of them like the washing machine ones, trivial, unseen
some of them like the ones to turn into that gap between the oncoming cars on the road that turns out to be too small ...
or not listen to that little voice inside that says "NO"...
or the one that says "YES"....
or the decision to say those words or not....
those ones are big and lifechanging and often irrevocable.
And is there somewhere where the weight of these decisions, the constant scouring out of our decision making cup, that leaves us scraped and wounded?....
And is there a place in us desiring a sheild from the barrage of those decisions? A place where we just wish to rest and be and allow?
is there a place in us that is made to wake up knowing that the feilds need to be plowed today and the fruit gathered and the jars boiled for jam making and that is all we have to do?
is part of our twenty first century heart fatigue just the being worn away by the constant decision making? i can't decide.
and i use that expletive advisedly... it is the descriptor of the ultimate regeneration, and at the same time, the little death as the French say...
i have been rereading Women Who Run With the Wolves.... and have been pondering how the presence of death in our society is such a feared and maligned thing...
and yet of course we all die
some of us a little each day
and we all grow new life
some of us a little each day
it is about getting the balance right
but our fear and revulsion of death and the lengths we go to to avoid it have been running around inside my heart lately
I often count my blessings about having a garden and the lessons it teaches me... the death and decay of one plant leads to the life of another and the presence of this death in the midst of all this life is a lesson for me about respecting the balance...
As a woman i see that i have been gifted the possibility of being the vessel of a miracle - being able to produce a living human...
And i read Clarissa's words about how the Goddess and the matriarchal societies didn't hide from Life/Death/Life Death was part of life...
and so it is mirrored in our house... our lovely sheep are such a part of living here and we woke up 2 mornings ago to Jerry Collins being dead... such a sad surprise... the other sheep were aware that something was wrong and stood at a respectful distance looking at her.... we buried her in the paddock and now that the sheep are in that paddock i found them all standing in a wee circle around her... they knew i am sure... this photo is me disturbing them in their noticing her
and then after 2 tumultuous days and 2 trips to the vet Eila's lamb Flora died last night... She was devestated when she realised she might die and was quite distraught but when she finally died she had a wee cry but was not frightened
Living here has blessed my children with an understanding of death and loss that i never had as a child and makes them more able, i hope, to see the things in their lives that need to die, to let things go that need to go, to be alive to the new life that follows....
i have been scared in my own life to let things that need to die die.
I have seen death as cruel... but now i am finding more and more that i need to see life as requiring death in order to live... that the great cycle is what i need to honour and respect.. to meet the ugly hag of death with the respect she deserves in order to fully embrace the gifts of life...
i am doing soulodge with Pixie Campbell and a whole gathering of wild and sacred women...
this week we are doing work with the plant people
and in my journey this is what i found:
Well my brain had all kinds of ideas about the plant i wanted to use for this... but my intuition and plant people had a whole other idea!
i ended up using Manuka and here is her message to me...
Manuka showed me how she is the one to step in and heal the destruction around her... she has long been undervalued and seen as "scrub" and a sign of poor land management. She was only good for firewood. She grows where little else grows. She is hardy and tenacious (that word again)... She is also the nursery plant for grander trees, kauri, totara, taraire...
Manuka is fodder for sister bee. Recently it has been discovered that Manuka honey has a unique healing property and is clinically tested (that o so important thing in land outside the intuition) to have measurable wound healing properties.
People are suddenly seeing that manuka is a way to make $$$. She is suddenly seen as valuable and no longer summararily chopped down. (i feel a little teary writing this i yearn for that valuing to happen for me)
Manuka helped me see that i am growing on scorched earth - i am repatriating ground - (i see that i am doing that by reclaiming my sacred woman/goddess self, healing generational patterns) the land i stand in is tough and these things have been hard but i am bloody well doing it!
Manuka also spreads many seeds, some come to fruition others die but enough take to make a difference. that helps me to sit with all the creative ideas that whirl through me and be comfortable with the fact that some fall away.. not all need to be successful.
She is prickly if held the wrong way- her sharp little leaves are tough - it is good that she protects herself she has a job to do and it is not to be food for others! AMEN!
She is home to many creatures, weta, ants, birds. By living into my dreams and my truth i nourish others around me... not by sacrificing myself....
I see her showing me that i too must be tenacious, and release the need to be recognised by others. She tells me that my growth is vital to healing, my self and my earth and that protecting myself is valid and right. She said "Your beauty will be seen by those who need to see it. Know that you are worthy of being cherished and of growing. You hold magic".
i will take a photo of the twig of manuka i held to show you but she is so precious to me now... ps i have just realised that manuka surrounded my grandparents bach (beach shack) a place of huge safety and wonderful memories for me...
sometimes i feel invincible, bullet proof, made of divinity
and sometimes i feel tiny and crushed and invisible like a shell that has been tumbled against the rocks and all that is left is fragments of me amoungst the sand... unnoticable undifferentiated unknowable.
sometimes i feel joyful and skip in the supermarket and smile full beam at strangers who look grey
and sometimes i see myself as a grey stranger in the mirror
sometimes i feel capable, confident and full of the wisdom that is older than me
and sometimes i just don't know what to do next.
sometimes i make things that flow through me, beauty reveals itself on the paper, the canvas the surface that makes me suck my breath in
and sometimes i make things that are shallow and empty.
sometimes i can find great depths of kindness and connection, love unfettered comes through me and to another's heart - i can feel it hit its' mark
and sometimes i just shut off like a wall.
sometimes the path is clear and i can stride on with my light shining
and sometimes it is so dark and i stumble around banging into the walls and falling on my face.
sometimes i feel the beauty of the world all around me flowing into me and the intricacy of a blade of grass fills me like a breath of light and i feel so blessed
and sometimes the world and its' meannesses are so abrasive that my bleeding spirit looks so ugly to me that i hide
The colour of the sky *the ocean * Elizabeth and Maeve * people who reach beyond the ordinary * genuine generosity *good food * watching things grow * the miracle of birth *a woman's power *tenderness in all its forms * the cycle of life * courage * people with a sense of fun * compassion * beautiful jewellery * art that is made from the heart - without a view to the purchaser or the market but made because it has to come *Clarissa Pincola Estes * grace
LIKE SANDS THROUGH THE HOURGLASS THESE ARE MORETHINGSTHATITHINK
i welcome you with warmth and love to the thoughts that grab me .... and the way they come out of my fingers when i make the time in my day as a mother and artist and poodle walker to write them down.....